Emilia Jones interview: ‘CODA’

Emilia Jones challenged herself in new ways with her starring role in the acclaimed film “CODA.” The young actress plays Ruby, a child of deaf adults (CODA), who is the only hearing member of her family, and desires to become a singer. The British-born Jones had to take singing lessons and learn American Sign Language for the role, on top of speaking with an American accent. Luckily for Jones, she was able to come into her own right alongside Ruby due to the filming schedule. “We were lucky because we shot most of the music scenes in order, so as Ruby’s voice was growing, mine was too,” says Jones in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. Watch the full webchat above.

Jones was excited to play the different versions of Ruby, from the girl who helps out her family and is totally in control of situations, to the more insecure Ruby at school. “It was fun to play because Ruby is like two characters in one,” explains Jones. “I think she has been bullied growing up because she’s different and her family’s different.” This is what allows Ruby to be more comfortable at home, singing to her heart’s content, whereas at school, it’s a different story. Ruby eventually opens up as the film goes on, so that when she’s singing “Both Sides Now” at her Berkeley audition, while also signing for her family’s benefit, she is a confident person. For Jones, it was a meta moment. “My voice had grown, my sign language had grown, and it was putting all of these skills together.”

One of the bigger turning points in the Sian Heder film is when Ruby’s father (Troy Kotsur) asks her to sing for him on the bed of his pickup truck. The emotional scene features Ruby singing just for him, as he feels the vibrations on her neck. “That scene was really special because it didn’t feel like acting,” she recalls. For this and other one-on-one scenes with her castmates, “It didn’t feel like there were any cameras in a room.” Learning sign language has allowed Jones to open up on a more emotional, direct level as an actor. “Acting through sign, I felt like it allowed me to get out of my head, because you embody what you’re saying,” she explains. “It really taught me the true meaning of communication.”

“CODA” has received a huge positive response from audiences since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Reviews are near universal in their praise for the film, which has now gone on to earn multiple Best Picture citations from awards organizations, including AFI and the Critics Choice Awards. “You can only hope that people love and it will enjoy watching it and they have, more than I thought,” she admits. “If the film makes you laugh and cry, in the best way, it’s kind of irresistible.”

To watch this same interview with closed captions, click on the CC button for the video below.


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UPLOADED Dec 21, 2021 11:05 am